“All great references belong beyond the design world”. Interview with Tanya Egoshina

Tanya Egoshina was our visiting instagrammer this April. We facetimed Tanya to talk about her trademark boldness in handling type, and her sources of design reference (spoiler: they are not that much about design).

July 16, 2019

Daria Yarzhambek (DY): Tanya, this is amazing, I’ve just seen your portfolio shared at RGB News on Telegram. I just went to take a look at it one more time, more closely. There’s an infinite amount of all kinds of beautiful things, with Afisha Picnic, Strelka Institute, Theatre of Nations, and much more. Please, tell us about yourself.

Tan Egoshina (TE): Last summer I graduated from HSE Art and Design School — only I started working on different projects in my third year already. It was Anna Kulachek who really helped me, back then she was one of our professors. Me and Anna, we really got along very well, she handed over some of her projects to me. This is how I started working at New Space Moscow by the Theatre of Nations, for which she designed logos, created a basic identity. I spent three years with them, and learned really a lot “on the ground”.

DY: And what exactly did you have to do with Afisha Picnic festival?

TE: It was in 2016. Back then Ira Ivanova was in charge of the style. Everything was on fire, and she asked me to help them out. his was one of the first projects I became part of, and such a huge one straight away! You have to figure out everything, constantly learning something new. I enjoyed such way to get to know things, to get to know how they work, and I started to join all the projects that showed up. Currently, I work at Readymag.

DY: What are you doing there?

TE: All sorts of things, ranging from images to landing pages.

Ilya Ruderman (IR): Are you done working for Strelka Institute?

TE: I recently designed a 100th image for Strelka, and there is no plan to stop. It is a very cool place, where you can do whatever you want — and fear nothing. At the very most, I can potentially upset the local DJ. But this has not happened so far.


DY: Let’s talk about your experience with type.today Instagram account. The first thing you do was immediately challenge what was deemed sacrosanct: you have stretch-transformed our much-loved condensed font, Druk.

TE: Yeah, sometimes I do things like that — without telling anyone. It is the first time I confessed.

DY: It suddenly became clear that your shift would to be tough — and this is exactly how it was. During the whole month, you’ve been letting yourself go. Where did you get all this boldness in handling type?

TE: I had no idea that it was that tough, actually. It seemed rather nice to me. Sometimes even not enough tough, if you ask me.

DY: I have been wondering how you work the letter shapes — because this kind of brazenness is actually rather unusual.

TE: In all my images for me it was always the shape of the letter itself, that mattered the most, — rather than anything I would bring to it from the outside. Something that I draw from the already existing plastic of any given letter. That is the reason why you can’t just replace a font in a ready-made picture by some other font — and expect it to work just the way it did. Any particular move applies to exactly this particular typeface, to that particular shape and to that particular letter. I guess, it was my central guiding principle.

DY: Could you maybe tell us your favourites, if there are any, — images, series?

TE: Of course, there are. The most successful image I have created is Horoscope. For some reason, everybody really loved it. I remember many of my friends sharing this picture — even though, initially, I had some serious doubts about this one. Other that that, the image for Cera, — with that childish mosaique snake, you know. I was eager to draw this thing. I’d been fantasising for two years, not knowing where to employ this technique, and kept putting it aside and sparing, — with this stuff I finally got to use it.

DY: And how did you come up with this rotating plate with type.today lettering?

TE: You know, there is a toy known by the beautiful name of thaumatrope. You twirl a string with disk having a picture on each side; it is twirled very quickly, and at some moment these two pictures appear to blend into one. I borrowed the trick from this movie called Sleepy Hollow. Obviously, it was not about the letters in this film — but the letters are not that bad either.

DY: Please, tell us about some other tricks you’ve borrowed from somewhere!

TE: Well, as a matter of the fact, I borrowed everything from the world around me. I truly enjoy the series with the simple Graphik and color blocks turning into a collage. It is a way of presenting a font, while not showing much letters. Or the other, with letters opening up like a flower!

DY: What about your image with W and palm trees, it was inspired by..?

TE: This thing, I learned it from Andrey — the one who happened to be on type.today. In this case, it was a technical aspect behind the whole thing that we started our work from, since the idea is pretty easy. Normally, I don’t do that sort of thing. But I gave it a try — and it turned out pretty well: those palm trees fit in just fine, and the letter shapes looks very cheerful.

DY: The two do really go together very well, palm trees with Amalta’s curves.

TE: Perfect match.

DY: Tell us about the way you organized your work process. Have you prepared in advance? Did you have something ready ‘on stand-by’? Or have you designed your images just before publishing, overnight?

TE: Me and Ilya, we’d been discussing this collab for a year. The whole thing seemed quite serious to me, so I was assuming I had to prepare myself, and think it all properly through. But there was something standing in my way all along, preventing me from getting started, — until the day Ilya texted me: “You’re up next. In a week from now”. I had five images prepared in advance the moment I started. At some point, they inevitably ran out. From this moment on, I began creating pictures on the day before — or right on the very same day of publication. Yet, my last several versions were indeed produced in advance: I had to leave for Iran and was worrying that I won’t be able to come up with something when I’m there.

DY: How does it feel, producing images on a day-to-day basis?

TE: That teaches you discipline. I enjoyed the experience.

DY: Listen, and what pace do you normally function at? Do you have to perform any activities this fast, and that often, in your real life?

TE: All the time. I love this rhythm. But the tasks you have there are mostly different — whereas here it is all about the same. You take a font, you make a square image — all while attempting to make it look different each time, to avoid repetition. At some point you find yourself wanting to repeat some thing, because there is plenty of pre-decided input, such as font, format. And you naturally seek to dilute it with something.

DY: How did you come up with a concept? Say, you already have a specific graphics idea, for then having to decide what typeface it can go well with, — or did you rather consider the letter at first, for later building the whole process on its personality (character)?

TE: On the day one, I’ve taken all the fonts I had and I typeset an alphabet using those. After that I put it on a white sheet of paper, for seeing all the characters by all fonts. Later on I have been studying my wall made of letters, day by day, — picked my victim, and went on torturing it.


DY: What fonts did you get involved in some kind of special relationships with? Any darlings, perhaps?

TE: No darlings. Each of them is beautiful in its own kind of way. When I’m looking at these fonts right now, I see that they are all very different. Every font has its own character and its own unique features. I have tried to apply different typefaces, in order to avoid repeating myself. I am really fond of Graphik, use it all the time. And this not only here — for my work at Readymag, as well.

DY: No least favourites either? Was there maybe some things that you attempted to employ, but eventually they just didn’t work out?

TE: Yes, there were some, but I have a feeling that this is due to the fact that these typefaces were very different from the ones I usually go with. For instance, I recall an exquisite, chic serif (CSTM Xprmntl 02 Italic — Editor’s note) — I haven’t been able to handle it as brazenly as intended.

IR: You are friends with Shugalsky, do I get it right?

TE: We are.

IR: Went to school together, I gather?

TE: No, this is love at first sight.

IR: This is because I am sensing a certain similar vibe coming from you two. And I really love this vibe.

TE: Both young, and bold (laughs).

IR: I guess that’s what this is. I gather that you also do possess a number of observations on where our typography and graphic design are heading to nowadays. And I’m sure that you have read our talk with Andrey.

TE: Right. Although, the view that I hold is actually a polar opposite. Although I like the fancy 3D stuff. I have different approach when it comes to creation: less is more. Therefore I start with looking into the object I am to deal with for a while — and only then I come up with a simple, yet very precise image. That’s cool that everyone creates a different thing, that people don’t agree with each other — this is how new, unexpected and amazing intersections come to life.

IR: Tanya, could you name perhaps any studios that you deem very meaningful and significant, that you keep your eye on?

TE: Clearly there is a number of so-called titans, whose activities I am trying to follow: Pentagram, OK-RM, Hort, Metahaven… Yet, recently I started to become less and less interested in watching and following the performance of major studios. — Instead of that, my attention is now increasingly attracted by these unknown guys, dwelling in their environment and producing really cool things.

IR: Do you have such examples in mind for sharing with us?

TE: It is not always studios, and not always about graphic design. I can answer with a list of Instagram nicknames: @jugoceania, @larissakasper, @ines_cox, @liars_collective, @thundergirl_xtal, @themaiy, @kolnstudio.

DY: Any references from the outside of the world of design?

TE: As a matter of fact, all great references belong somewhere beyond the design world. I can’t really say it was a picture that I came across earlier and somehow told myself that I had to remember it, with a view to recreate later in the exact same manner.

IR: As for this one, I can tell you for sure. Metal engraving images, like these — here we witness the examples of this sort of stuff virtually every other month.

TE: All right, Andrey inspired me and I’ve repeated.

IR: And twice.

TE: True.

IR: For the record, it was not just Andrey. All this started from the very first guys, Sasha Design, and somehow has become an indispensable, a must-have part of the program. So I suggest we organize a separate gallery, with the sole purpose of displaying metal engravings.

TE: Let’s do that. The thing is that it is very tempting: clicking on just two buttons on Photoshop gets you a ready-made image — who could resist a solution like that? In fact, my engraving picture was liked by everyone, too.

IR: That’s right, all of them usually tend to get a lot of likes. This is what I find particularly amazing.

DY: Let’s get back to references from the external environment, aka the world around us.

IR: What inspires you, Tanya?

TE: Literally anything. Actually, until some point I hardly ever produced coloured images. Then I visited Palermo, Italy. Everything around me was so colourful there, and I suddenly thought to myself: “But why?” Since then I started experimenting with colors: the brighter, the better.

DY: I believe this could go for a beautiful ending, don’t you?

TE: I really wanted to thank you all. This was really a great experience. A huge room for experiments, but a huge responsibility, too.

IR: Have you enjoyed our collab, Tanya, after all?

TE: Of course.

IR: Excellent!


Mentioned fonts